Ragazzi, one of the things we all have to learn, as responsible citizens, is to not throw out food. There is in fact a commercial that is played often, which turns our habit of overbuying and overcooking into a joke . You know the one "four pounds of sirloin, please, but just wrap 2 and throw out the rest."
Not funny. But a fact. So when Annalena tells you to cook more of something than you need, and deliberately, there must be a good reason.
And so there is. The next time you cook rice make extra. It will keep very well. Annalena has kept leftover rice in her fridge for a week (actually, she's kept it for longer, but let's not go there), and apparently, you can freeze it too. So if you make rice at all, make double what you need, so you can make this recipe.
And if you have that rice, you can make an absolutely outstanding dish in such little time, you may very well have to be revived with smelling salts, or the sauce you use here.
The other benefit of this, is that it avoids all of the YUCK that we associate with fried rice. For Annalena, that YUCK includes the use of eggs, which she doesn't really like, and certainly does not like pieces of gunky scrambled egg showing up in her fried rice (Do any of you out there remember "subgum" fried rice? Know what that is. "Subgum" is Cantonese for "ten ingredients." Among Chinese, however, it is called 'garbage' rice. It's where the leftovers go in the restaurant. So if you order anything "subgum." Just sayin...)
OK, so here we go. Now, there are many OPTIONAl ingredients in this recipe. The only required item is the onions and scallions. Annalena is serious about that. You can leave out anything , substitute anything, and you can change the quantities. Here we go.
We start with the presumption that you have 3 cups of left over, cooked rice. Jasmine rice is really good, but use what you got. You will also need a half pound, or more, of peeled shrimp. Remember Annalena prefers the medium ones, but use what you l ike. You also need a large onion, sliced into the "half moon" cut. Annalena prefers a red one here.A couple of scallions, sliced up, and at least two minced cloves of garlic. Now, you will also need an item you may not have in your house. Get it. It's useful. That is Asian fish sauce. It gives a depth of flavor to things that will surprise you. Annalena thinks of it as Asian worcester sauce. Measure 2 tablespoons out, as well as a bit of hot sauce of your liking. You will also need a half cup of nuts. Annalena did this with cashews, but almonds or peanuts would be good, too. They need to be roasted.
A digression here. Annalena learned, from Zuni Cafe', that even when nuts are sold as "roasted" you should roast them again. It is not hard. Turn your oven to 350, spread the nuts on a sheet, and put them in for five or six minutes . You'll smell them, and the oil will come out to the top. DONE.
Now, you will also need some soy sauce. When Annalena made this, the soy sauce blackened all the rice and the dish was a bit salty. That was for FIVE cups of rice, and with half a cup of soy sauce. For three cups, use 1/4 cup.
Trust Annalena here, measuring your ingredients has taken more time than cooking this dish will. Put two tabelspoons of neutral oil in a big pan, and when it begins to shimmer, add the shrimp. Do not move them for two minutes, then stir them, and cook them for another minute. Out they go, to a bowl, and add the onion slices. Stir, for about two minutes, then add the scallions, for half a minute and then add your garlic, the fish sauce, the hot sauce and cook for another thirty seconds. Now add the rice. You'll want a big spoon here, because you are going to stir, and break up and clumps of rice (and there will be some. ) . It will take you all of two minutes. Promesso.
Now, off the heat, stir in the shrimp and, if you like this, add about two cups of chopped pineapple. Or apple. Or pear. Or whatever fruit you like. You may also want to stir in up to a cup of green peas, or some other smallish vegetable, to make this a bit more nutritious. Add the soy sauce, and stir it all together. And now, the nuts, on top.
Taste it. If you want more hot sauce, please. Or soy. Or fish sauce. Or whatever you like.
Don't care for shrimp? Don't use them. Use scallops. Or cubes of tofu. Or, ground meat. Whatever you like. Annalena already told you that the nuts were switchable. And so on , and so forth.
If you know a bad week is ahead of you, making the extra rice will give you just what you need when you come home, need dinner, and need it fast. So put this one on your list, ragazzi. It will serve you well.
Why it is "Thai" style is something that Annalena cannot begin to fathom